Building a collective roadmap for entrepreneurship in Garissa County
In Garissa Town, the capital of Garissa County in Kenya, home to the Dadaab refugee camp, representatives from local government authorities, business support organizations, business community networks, and the humanitarian sector, are supporting entrepreneurs by developing an enabling business environment in and outside of the camp.
Recently, all actors came together for a two-day business forum to build a collective roadmap for entrepreneurship and business in the County. Co-hosted by the International Trade Centre and the Norwegian Refugee Council, the business forum discussed potential ways of working together to create an inclusive, thriving, and competitive business environment in Garissa County.
The forum focused on three objectives: identifying challenges, issues, and barriers for businesses in Garissa Country; sharing experiences with entrepreneurship in Garissa; and developing a roadmap of action to build a vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem in Garissa.
Complementors – not competitors
The forum showed a clear consensus on the wish to collaborate and break silos.
“As actors on the frontline of development of the business and entrepreneurship ecosystem in the county, we serve the same target groups, hosts and refugees, address similar challenges, and have the same overarching goal of facilitating enterprises and businesses to thrive,” said Jillo Halkano, National Coordinator for the Refugee Employment and Skills Initiative of the International Trade Centre. “Hence, we are not competitors, we are complementors.”
Safo Ahmed, legal advisor for the Norwegian Refugee Council in Dadaab, supported this collaborative approach: “We need a consolidated effort with humanitarian actors, the national and county government and the private sector towards self-reliance for both refugees and host communities.”
Mahat Salad, Chief Officer at the Department of Trade and Economy in Garissa County noted that micro and small enterprises are the drivers of job creation, and that the county government has prioritized to support this growth. Thereby he appreciated the collaborative efforts from the Norwegian Refugee Council and the International Trade Centre. “Business and entrepreneurship development is key in an effort to facilitate durable solution for the refugee crisis in the country,” he said. “There is need for actors to work together to make it a reality.”
Moreover, the event included presentations from the Danish Refugee Council, County Government Department of Trade and Enterprise Development, County Revenue Office as well as Department of Social Development and Gender, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Garissa Chapter, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, International Labour Organization, World Food Programme, Refugees Affairs Secretariat, Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Bureau of Standards, Youth Enterprise Fund, Equity Bank, and African Entrepreneur Collective.
Filling entrepreneurship and business development service gaps
The agenda also included interactive sessions for participants to discuss challenges and brainstorm solutions within the space of entrepreneurship and business, for instance on entrepreneurship and business development service gaps and barriers in relation to regulatory, economic and financial, as well as institutional and informational challenges.
Specifically, among the challenges identified during the forum were: limited access to investment and sharia compliant finance, market linkages, and restricted information on business registration and tax processes. Suggested solutions were setting up information hubs; implementing new measures to address administrative procedures; providing registration services, financial services and affordable loans; and delivering trainings to build skills and raise awareness on the unique characteristics of the business environment in Garissa.
‘’The workshop was very interactive and educative. It created a platform for all stakeholders to share what they do and learn from each other,’’ said Petronillar Muthui of the Refugees Affairs Secretariat.
The outcomes of the forum have been compiled into a report that will provide a roadmap in collaboration with other actors.
About the Refugee Employment & Skills Initiative Dadaab
The Garissa Business Forum falls under the work of the Refugee Employment and Skills Initiative (RESI) in Dadaab, Kenya. The programme supports entrepreneurs and developing an enabling business environment among refugees and host community members in the Dadaab refugee camp and Garissa County. Funded by the Government of the Netherlands, RESI Dadaab is implemented in partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the International Trade Centre (ITC).